Artists who arrive fully formed at a young age always dazzle, and Francesca Woodman was one of the most gifted and dazzling artist prodigies in recent history. In 1972, the 13-year-old Woodman made a black-and-white photograph of herself sitting at the far end of a sofa in her home in Boulder, Colorado. Her face is obscured by her hair, light radiates from an unseen source behind her out at the viewer through her right hand. This photograph typifies much of what would characterize Woodman’s work to come: a semi-obscured female form merging with or flailing against a somewhat bare and often dilapidated interior. In an oeuvre of around 800 photographs made in just nine years, Woodman performed her own body against the textures of wallpaper, door frame, baths and couches, radically extending the Surrealist photography of Man Ray, Hans Bellmer and Claude Cahun and creating a mood and language all her own. In the 30 years since her untimely death, Woodman has gained a following among successive generations of artists and photographers, a testament to her work’s undeniable immediacy and enduring appeal Amid a renewed intensification of interest in Francesca Woodman, this volume is published for a major touring exhibition of her photographs and films at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Containing many previously unpublished photographs, it is the definitive Francesca Woodman monograph.
Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) was born in Denver, Colorado, to the well-known artists George and Betty Woodman. In 1975 she attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and in 1979 she moved to New York, to attempt to build a career in photography. In 1981, at the age of 22, she committed suicide.
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